Process mapping for microinsurance operations A toolkit for understanding and improving business processes and client value

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1 Process mapping for microinsurance operations A toolkit for understanding and improving business processes and client value MICRO INSURANCE CENTRE Developing partnerships to insure the world s poor

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3 Process mapping for microinsurance operations A toolkit for understanding and improving business processes and client value by Roland Steinmann MicroInsurance Centre, LLC Provided as part of the IFAD project Facilitating Widespread Access to Microinsurance Services, managed by the Microfinance Centre and implemented by the Microinsurance Centre, LLC. MICRO INSURANCE CENTRE Developing partnerships to insure the world s poor

4 2012 by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of IFAD concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The designations developed and developing countries are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process. ISBN October 2012 Cover Photo: IFAD/Asad Zaidi

5 Table of contents FOREWORD 4 1. OVERVIEW 5 Introduction 6 What is a process map? 6 Why process mapping? 8 2. PROCESS MAPPING 9 The mapping cycle: as-is and should-be maps 10 As-is maps 10 Should-be maps 11 Approaches and styles 12 The basics 12 Components of a process map 13 Symbols 14 Tools and software 15 Required resources THE SIX STEPS TO CREATING A PROCESS MAP 17 Step 1: Clarify the purpose 19 What purpose? 19 Which processes? 21 Step 2: Create the business case; get backing from the top 23 Step 3: Assemble a team; structure the mapping procedure 25 The team and the team leader 25 Structure the mapping process 26 Step 4: Outline the process and gather data 27 Outline the process 27 Gather data 30 Step 5: Draw a detailed map 31 Step 6: Finalize the map THE ART OF ANALYSING AND IMPROVING PROCESSES 39 Involving the team 40 Finding areas of concern 41 Reducing complexity 41 Analysing responsibilities 43 Analysing risk 44 Analysing the timeline 46 Analysing costs 49 Drawing the should-be map REVISED PROCESSES 59 Implementation 60 Revision of processes 61 FURTHER RESOURCES 62 FIGURES 39 Figure 1: Example of a process overview 7 Figure 2: The mapping and process improvement cycle 12 Figure 3: Detail of sample process map 14 Figure 4: Commonly-used symbols 15 Figure 5: Outlining the claims process 28 Figure 6: As-is map for claims process: YES Hospital Cash 34 Figure 7: As-is map with bottlenecks and areas for improvement highlighted 50 Figure 8: Should-be map for claims processes: YES Hospital Cash 54

6 Foreword This manual is intended as an aid to microinsurance institutions. It presents a technique called process mapping that can support institutions in self-analysis by assisting them in understanding, developing and improving business processes. Although the concepts presented may be used for many types of projects and processes, this manual was specifically developed as a supplement to Microinsurance product development for microfinance providers (McCord 2012). The manual describes how a process map can be drawn, analysed and adapted for the microinsurance sector. It offers practical guidance about which processes to concentrate on, and guides the reader through the task of improving these processes, first on paper and then in practice. In order to make process-mapping concepts more real, this manual uses a fictitious case study of medical claims processing to walk the reader though the steps of creating a process map. It is hoped that using this study will illuminate the advantages of using process mapping and highlight the important rules of thumb. Although creating process maps is not especially difficult, it is important to keep in mind how to create them and how they can be used to best advantage. The manual does not provide benchmarks on optimal microinsurance processes. It concentrates rather on operational aspects. Once process mapping is widely applied in the microinsurance industry, it will open the way for the development of benchmarks. The author welcomes feedback, and the reader is encouraged to share process maps that are developed as a result of this manual. Submissions will be treated as confidential, and permission will be requested before any use. If submissions are used or published in any way, they will be anonymous. Feedback can be sent to Roland Steinmann at 4

7 1. Overview IFAD/Mwanzo IFAD/Aubrey Wade Millinga 5 5 5

8 1. Overview Introduction Process mapping is a simple and valuable tool for improving and streamlining existing business processes or designing and communicating new ones. It uses charts with symbols and arrows to visualize an organization s core processes and their attributes, such as sequence, duration, costs, risks and responsibilities. Process maps can illustrate more clearly than written procedures how a business is conducted, where value is added to a product or service, and where inefficiencies might be occurring. Although the process-mapping technique originated in industrial operations, it has many benefits for streamlining any business, including those in the insurance sector. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth developed the first structured approach to visualizing processes in 1921 with Process charts: First steps in finding the one best way to do work mainly to optimize industrial engineering processes (Gilbreth and Gilbreth 1921). Since then, many different process-mapping methods have been developed, with a variety of approaches, techniques and symbols. Today, the Gilbreths simple system is used in a variety of industries to better understand and improve operations. What is a process map? A process map 1 is a graphic representation of the tasks and procedures (the processes) followed in the course of doing business (figure 1). A process is defined as any action that has an input at its starting point and an output at its end. Processes consist of a sequence of single interrelated steps or tasks. They are described by an active verb and a noun, for example file claims form or sign receipt. 1 Until now, no universally accepted terminology for this approach has emerged. Another frequently used term is flow charting. While the terms can be used as synonyms, in this manual the activity is called process mapping and the product a process map. 6

9 PROCESS MAPPING FOR MICROINSURANCE OPERATIONS Figure 1. Example of a process overview Client purchases insurance Client suffers loss/damage Client files claim Client receives indemnity An accurate process map presents a clear picture of what happens in a process, but it is much more than a record of the sequence of process steps. It can answer important questions about the business, such as: For the whole process: Where does the process start and where does it end? What are the inputs and outputs of the process? What are the individual steps involved in the process? Who executes which step? For each process step: What happens in this step? Where does it fit into the sequence of process steps? Who carries it out and who (which position or department) is responsible for it? What are the inputs and outputs of each step? How long does it take? How much does it cost? A process map can be a high-level map that shows only the broad outline of steps (as in figure 1) or it can be a very detailed diagram. For example, the third step in figure 1 is Client files claim ; this step might easily be made into several more detailed steps, such as Client obtains claims form, Client fills out form and Client sends form to insurer. The level of detail used in a process map typically depends on the purpose of the map. 7

10 1. OVERVIEW Why process mapping? The nineteenth-century Russian writer Turgenev wrote: A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound. In the same way, a process map enables people to visualize complex sequences of activities and tasks. And beyond simple visualization, a process map facilitates the careful analysis needed to streamline and improve a process. Why process mapping? To document how business is (or should be) done To understand and simplify a process To understand and minimize cost and time factors To understand and mitigate risks To understand and clarify responsibilities For training and/or communication (internal and external) To improve customer satisfaction To plan and introduce new processes A process map can help an organization institutionalize the knowledge of how its business is done. This is especially important for businesses where staff turnover is high and/or only a few employees are knowledgeable about a given process. 8

11 2. Process mapping IFAD/R. Ramasomanana 9 9

12 2. Process mapping The mapping cycle: as-is and should-be maps To reap its full benefits, process mapping should be an evolving process rather than a one-off task. Typically, the starting point is to draw a map that mirrors what is currently being done, and the end point is a map of an optimized process. This theoretical optimal process then has to be tested, and only when it actually works on the ground can the map be adjusted and the mapping process considered finished. But even this end point is temporary, as the cycle of actual and optimized processes must begin again in an iterative practice of continuous improvement. We distinguish two different types of maps, each in a certain phase in the mapping cycle: As-is map: depicting the way business is currently being done, which serves as the basis for analysis and optimization; Should-be map: this depicts the plan for an improved way of doing business. Ideally, process mapping is embedded in a comprehensive quality-management strategy. Alternatively, it can be implemented by the institution s internal audit department. A fall-back solution is to put it under the department responsible for operations. However, bear in mind that operations may not be the best department to recognize the need for fundamental change as it is, after all, the department responsible for the existing set-up. As-is maps The as-is map mirrors what is currently happening in the organization. It is generated by interviewing the people involved and getting them to explain exactly what they do, how they do it and why. The resulting map should highlight (rather than gloss over) any inefficiencies or process steps that are not clearly defined. 10

13 PROCESS MAPPING FOR MICROINSURANCE OPERATIONS Should-be maps After drawing your as-is map, it will probably become clear that certain steps in the business process need to change. After a thorough analysis, you will then draw a should-be process map, which will depict the optimal version of your business processes. This map is thus a proposal of how the existing processes might be improved. Should-be maps are also created whenever you want to introduce a new process. Eventually, the should-be map has to be tested in reality. As it is a theoretical construct, one cannot expect reality to work exactly as planned. Thus, after a certain trial period, the as-is and should-be maps must be compared and the differences between them assessed. It could be that aspects of the should-be map have not been implemented because the change would be unacceptable; for example, people may prefer to continue doing things the way they always have been done. On the other hand, some should-be map ideas may not have been implemented because they were impracticable. In this case, the should-be map has to be adapted to what is realistic and doable on the ground. The resulting revised should-be map then becomes the document of reference according to which future processes are carried out. There will still be a need for internal audits or other checks to identify disjunctions between the should-be map and reality. Adaptation will then be necessary once more, whether on the side of the process or of the map. The six steps of process mapping and improvement Step 1 Draw the as-is situation. The as-is map shows how business is done in reality and is the basis for subsequent analysis. Step 2 Analyse the as-is map to find room for improvement (e.g. reduced turnaround time, costs, better risk management). Step 3 Draw the should-be map, showing the proposed improvements. Step 4 Pilot test any major change in processes to avoid surprises on a large scale. Step 5 Carefully analyse the results of the pilot test. Step 6: If pilot test results are satisfactory, or if only minor changes are required, implement the new process throughout the whole organization. If major problems are detected, then go back to step 4 and test an improved process again. Note: in cases where a completely new process is being mapped (for example, for a new product or delivery channel), one would start directly with step 3. 11

14 2. PROCESS MAPPING Figure 2. The mapping and process improvement cycle 1. Draw as-is map 2. Analyse as-is map 6. Review should-be map and retest significant changes 3. Draw improved map: should-be map 5. Analysis of pilot-tested process 4. Pilot test should-be map Approaches and styles The basics There are many ways to visualize processes. To get the best results, the style of the map must be adapted for the particular industry and to the level of detail needed. In principle, there is no right or wrong method, as long as the methodology is consistent and serves the intended purpose. However, the following basic principles have proved helpful: Use simple symbols that are easy to understand. In theory, you can use any symbols you like, but the symbols presented in this manual are widely used and understood and will therefore facilitate communication with your peers. The flow of the process should be presented from left to right and/or top to bottom. Arrows should not intersect. Each symbol should be named concisely. It should be clear from the title whether the process is an as-is map depicting what really happens, or a should-be map representing the ideal process. 12

15 PROCESS MAPPING FOR MICROINSURANCE OPERATIONS Components of a process map The process maps described in this manual are drawn so as to clearly identify who is responsible for each process step, how long it takes and how much it costs. 2 On the horizontal axis, relevant departments and functions are each given their own column (in figure 3, for example, these are: Customer, Insurance agent at branch and Accountant at branch ). This makes it very clear who carries out or is responsible for each step in the process. On the vertical axis, a time axis tracks the turnaround time, and a second column is provided to add the costs of each process step. 3 These columns are headed by symbols: time is symbolized by a clock and costs by a dollar sign. The following steps are necessary to create a process map: Drawing the process map 1 Define the starting point (trigger) and the end of the process. 2 Use the name of the process title for the rows (in figure 3, this is Premium processing, while in figure 4 it is Claims processing ). 3 List all functions or departments having a role in the process. Whether you choose to list individuals or whole departments depends on the level of detail you want to show. You might have to experiment to arrive at the desired level of detail. 4 Allocate a separate vertical column to each function or department (as in figure 3: Customer, Insurance agent at branch and Accountant at branch ). 5 If required, add time and cost columns (as shown in figure 3). 6 Place the various process steps in the columns of the relevant department or individual carrying them out. 7 Arrange the process steps chronologically so that they move vertically along the time line. 8 Connect the symbols with arrows showing the flow direction of inputs. 9 Adjust the level of detail and change symbols if necessary. 2 Process maps of this type are sometimes referred to as cross-functional flow charts or swim-lane flow charts. 3 A good understanding of how long a process takes, on average, is critically important, both for use as a baseline and for measuring improvements. Adding the costs is very useful, but may require significant effort to estimate. Ideally, this would be done in the framework of a broader cost-analysis exercise. 13

16 2. PROCESS MAPPING Figure 3. Detail of sample process map $ Customer Insurance agent at branch Accountant at branch Trigger: claimant walks into branch to make a premium payment Premium processing 0.1h 0.25h presents insurance certificate and hands over cash premium receipt receives signed receipt insurance certificate counts cash, signs receipt prepares daily premium report for accountant transfers daily report and premium to accountant premium receipt daily report premium receipt daily report 1h not complete check daily report, receipts and cash complete 14

17 PROCESS MAPPING FOR MICROINSURANCE OPERATIONS Symbols There is no universal convention on which symbols to use. All that is required is that they are easy to understand and identify and that all staff in the organization use them consistently. The symbols in this manual are those commonly used (figure 4). Figure 4. Commonly-used symbols Symbol Meaning Start or trigger / end of process: indicates which event triggers the process and which step ends the process. Process step: the most frequently used symbol in flow charts, this describes any process step or task to be performed. Keep the wording concise, describing the action as accurately as possible, typically using an action verb and an object. For example, file papers. Decision: decision symbols always branch into two arrows, showing yes/no outcomes. Use this symbol for each act of checking or decision-making, for example: send back or forward?, ask for more documents?, is it complete? Document (hard copy): any document (hard copy) used in a process step: such as forms, policies and reports. Document (digital): any document (digital version) used in a process step: such as client record in the management information system (MIS) or s. Database digital data storage: data storage for digital data: such as MIS and accounting software. Folder hard-copy files: data storage for hard copies such as folders. Process defined elsewhere: this symbol indicates a subprocess that is not depicted in detail in the given process map, but that can be found in another one. It is used when there is more than just one step, for example checking claims validity in the Claims Department. Direction arrow: indicates the direction of the process. 15

18 2. PROCESS MAPPING Tools and software There are many software applications for drawing process maps and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right one depends mainly on how familiar you already are with one product. It also depends on how often you will use it afterwards buying and learning how to use new software just to create one process map is not very efficient. Widely used software applications that can be used to recreate drawings like those depicted in this manual include OmniGraffle, Visio and SmartDraw. Each of these tools allows you to create maps that look professional. If you have just started exploring process mapping and are unlikely to use it often, then Microsoft Excel (yes, Excel!) is sufficient to start with (Microsoft Word and PowerPoint can also be used, but Excel is by far the best tool for this). Process maps can also be drawn on paper, or on a whiteboard, or laid out on a table using cards, or created with sticky notes. Using cards or sticky notes has the advantage of great flexibility and visibility to a team. You may find this method very helpful at the start, especially if you are extracting information from a group of people. Once the group agrees on the map, you can transfer the information to a digital or a properly drawn hard-copy form. Required resources Mapping an existing process can take a couple of days or as long as two weeks it depends how many people and departments are involved. Another factor is whether the processes are already well documented, whether documents and cases are already being tracked and processing times are known. If this documentation has not been done, you will first need to gather the information through interviews and workshops in representative branches. Documenting the current way of doing business and creating the as-is map are only the first steps the basis for subsequent analysis and improvements. Each change should be carefully discussed with the parties involved and pilot tested. The technique of process mapping is easy to learn. However, in some cases it may prove more efficient, or even critically necessary, to engage an outside person to do the first mapping and analysis for example where human resources are limited, or where an unbiased perspective, fresh ideas or on-the-job training is needed. 16

19 3. The six steps in creating a process map IFAD/Susan Beccio 1717

20 3. The six steps in creating a process map This section discusses the steps required to create an effective process map. It uses a fictitious case study of a medical claims process to illuminate the important areas. The six steps are: 1 Clarify the purpose 2 Create the business case 3 Assemble the team 4 Outline the process and gather data 5 Draw a detailed map 6 Finalize the map Box 1 General information case study: YES Hospital Cash The reputable insurance company Your Everlasting Security (YES) has developed a medical cash insurance product in close collaboration with the dynamic microfinance institution (MFI) Bright Future Credit (BFC). The product, to be offered exclusively to BFC clients, includes the following main features: Voluntary insurance Subscription: at loan application Premium payment: with monthly loan instalments Coverage: US$5 per night at a public hospital Trigger: overnight stay at hospital Claims documentation required: hospital discharge certificate, signed by treating doctor After collecting feedback from clients through six focus group discussions, YES finalized the product and BFC began offering the product at all its branches. BFC serves 54,000 clients through 23 branches, covering all provinces of the country. Note: Unfortunately, BFC did not follow best practice in product development: it did no pilot test in a limited number of branches and thus there was no client feedback that could be used to refine the product. 18

21 PROCESS MAPPING FOR MICROINSURANCE OPERATIONS Step 1: Clarify the purpose The first step is always to clarify the purpose(s) of the project, because the purpose defines how the mapping is to be done. The purpose also helps define the level of detail a process map should show. An overview map for an annual business report will certainly be less detailed than a map used to familiarize new employees with their tasks. Finding the appropriate level of detail is not always easy. Drawing maps for all processes of an organization is very time consuming, so it is important to be clear about which part(s) of the business you want to include and the level of detail you want. What purpose? There are a number of possible purposes for making a process map. The most common ones are to understand a process, to analyse and improve a process, to train people and to design new processes. Process mapping to understand a process. To analyse and improve a process, it is valuable first to gain a clear understanding of how the details of the business are carried out. Business processes can be complex. Often processes have evolved organically to the point where not even management understands the detail. Sometimes one finds that the whole process has never been analysed. Careful analysis will show which processes should be mapped: where does performance lag behind customer expectations, benchmarks or competitiveness? Process mapping to analyse and improve a process. We do this when we want to identify bottlenecks or risks (related to fraud, security or reputation). Shortcomings regarding customer satisfaction, national or international standards and benchmarks, and the general competitiveness of a company, may lead to the decision to analyse and improve the processes involved. Several factors may be analysed and shown using a process map: Cost factors: how much does each step cost? Time factors: how long does a step take? Responsibilities: Who is responsible for the step? Risks: Many factors can contribute to risk, so the more details shown in the map, the more likely that underlying risks will become apparent. In order to identify as many risks and inefficiencies as possible, detailed maps are indispensable. 19

22 3. THE SIX STEPS IN CREATING A PROCESS MAP Process mapping for training. Process maps make excellent communication tools to familiarize new employees with processes and tasks. Such maps must be detailed at least in relation to the tasks that the new employee must carry out. Process maps with less detail can be used to give employees a good overview of the whole business. Process mapping to design new processes. If you are designing an entirely new process, you will want to create a clear basis before proposing any changes, whether these are for a new business, new practices or additional tasks. Process maps are excellent means to think through new processes before starting a pilot phase. Many risks and bottlenecks can be detected on paper before money and time are spent (or wasted) testing them in the field. Box 2 Goal setting case study: YES Hospital Cash After eight months of running YES Medical Cash, Mr Doït, the project leader at YES, learned that clients were dissatisfied with customer service. The company s advertising promised claims settlement within 48 hours, but in reality it took three to four weeks until claims were paid out. Most worryingly, some clients who had filed claims complained that there had been no response at all from the company. In addition to these customer complaints, the chief operations officer of BFC, Ms Bold, expressed serious concern that the hospital cash insurance product was absorbing too much of her staff s time. In order to better understand where the issues came from and what should be changed, as the project leader at YES, Mr Doït decided to invest in a process-mapping exercise in order to identify the causes of the complaints and which areas could be improved. He contacted Ms Bold to discuss the issues. It very soon became clear that neither of them really knew what was happening on the ground. Obviously, front-end staff were not following predefined processes, otherwise there wouldn't have been a problem. They realized that what they needed first was a clear picture of how claims processing was actually being done. They agreed that processing time and responsibilities should be closely analysed in the mapping, as both dimensions had given rise to complaints. Other activities, such as premium collection and financial reconciliation between YES and BFC, were deliberately excluded. For Mr Doït and Ms Bold the goal was clear: improve client satisfaction while reducing the administrative burden on both BFC and YES in order to secure financial viability. They agreed to take a fresh unbiased look at how business was currently being done and how it could be done more efficiently. 20

23 PROCESS MAPPING FOR MICROINSURANCE OPERATIONS With new processes it is also important to get the level of detail right. If a map is drawn to secure support from management for a new idea, less detail is likely to be necessary than for a map introducing a new process. On the other hand, a map used to instruct people on what to do should contain sufficient information for the person to do the work correctly. The level of detail to include is often as much art as it is common sense. Provide insurance is far too broad a step; whereas pick up the pencil is far too detailed. The rule of thumb to remember is to provide no more and no less information than is needed for your particular audience. Which processes? As a general rule, it is easier to draw maps for new processes than for existing ones. However, the mapping of existing processes may reap huge efficiency gains. For microinsurance processes, it usually makes sense to start with claims administration or premium collection, as these processes are critical to customer satisfaction, efficiency and fraud detection. Start with rough processes and add detail as needed. Prioritize important processes, because mapping the process flow of a whole business in detail is a lot of work. Mapping can take place at the macro- or microlevel. However, it is not always obvious where to draw the line between the two (and there is no strict right or wrong). Macroprocesses are the core processes within an organization, and a macroprocess map is drawn with a certain level of abstraction. It is an overview map that shows what a company does, without all the details reflected. Microprocesses or subprocesses describe details within macroprocesses, for example showing how authorization for a certain task is obtained. Describing microprocesses is very useful in improving efficiency and quality. Examples are shown and discussed in section 3.5. For higher management, an overview map depicting all macroprocesses can be very useful in locating problems and identifying the processes in which they occur. 21

24 3. THE SIX STEPS IN CREATING A PROCESS MAP Typical macroprocesses in microinsurance From a high-level perspective, microinsurance operations are no different than any general insurance operation: policies have to be sold, premiums collected, contracts renewed and claims paid. In microinsurance there is often an additional operation, which is the institutional interaction between the risk-taking insurance company and the delivery channel. In a more complex case, a broker might be involved, who will likely have to deal with both institutions. Simpler processes are also possible, such as mutual funds owned by an MFI. For the purpose of explaining the principles of process mapping, the intermediate level of complexity found in a partner/agent model with a voluntary product is presented in our case study. Typical macroprocesses in microinsurance are: Sales: This macroprocess covers activities from the first client contact through to successfully registering him or her as a new client and delivering an insurance certificate. Related microprocesses include marketing, clarification of questions, applying for microinsurance, closing the sale, getting the application to the insurer, receiving the policy document, collecting the first premium payment and distributing the policy document to the client. Premium collection: This macroprocess covers everything related to collecting premiums from the client and transmitting them to the risktaking partner (normally an insurance company) and checking for clients with outstanding premium payments. Renewals: Renewing an insurance contract is not the same as enrolling a new client. It requires reminding the client of upcoming renewals, collecting new premiums and providing an updated insurance certificate. Claims processing: Claims payment is one of the most important processes in insurance: low-income clients in particular expect swift payment, as they usually need funds immediately. This macroprocess covers all steps from informing the agent of the claim, to submitting the required documents, checking validity, registering in the MIS, approval/rejection and ultimately disbursement and final filing. 22

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